Did a Medieval Relic Turn Up at a Secondhand Sale?August 6, 2009 at 9:26 am | Posted in Finds | 1 Comment
Car-boot sales are England’s version of swap meets. So when we read in the Daily Mail about a man who recently bought what might be a priceless relic of the Knights Templar at a Yorkshire car-boot sale, we think: Wow!! The lucky shopper (seen at left; photo from the Daily Mail) isn’t just an average joe. He’s an antiques dealer, so he knows what to look for:
“The small piece of painted wood is believed to have come from a box which the Knights Templar used to protect religious items as they moved across Europe during the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Quite how this ornate piece of wood found its way to a car boot sale in Yorkshire is anyone’s guess. But it could bring Leeds antiques dealer Martin Roberts a big windfall at the next stop on its unlikely journey — an auction house in London.
“Analysts believe the item, which measures 10 inches by four inches, is the lid or door from a tabernacle and could be 1,300 years old. If the piece commands a large sum, it would be a second major triumph in two years for Mr Roberts, who bought an ancient Egyptian artefact for £50 and sold it for £30,000 in 2007.
“He acquired the tabernacle door from a friend at a car boot sale in Otley, in exchange for a pine chest of drawers and six Victorian glass handles which he had bought for only £13….”
Well, if he bought it from his friend, and it turns out to be real, wouldn’t you say he owes his friend a percentage of the profits?
“Mr Roberts said the item would be analysed by experts at auctioneers Christie’s before becoming one of the lots at the firm’s Old Master sale in London in December: ‘Christie’s have never sold a tabernacle door because they’ve never seen one, so we really have no idea what it might fetch,’ he added. ‘It will be very interesting to see what happens after the people at Christie’s have done their research because I think the Roman soldier depicted on it may well have a name. People have told me that it’s likely to date back to between 700 and 1200AD, but I would rather let Christie’s do some carbon testing on the wood before I estimate how old it might be.’
“Mr Roberts, a former professional golf player and keen guitarist, began selling antiques online in 2003, taking it up while he cared for his wife Maria, who died from cancer the following year: ‘If the tabernacle door sells for £600, it sells for £600,’ he said. ‘If it sells for £6m, then of course that would be absolutely fine by me. It’s not the money that matters to me; it’s the absolute buzz of doing the research and meeting wonderful people who are so knowledgeable about their subject.'”
Yeah. Plus the money.